Each year School Garden Project has the opportunity of working with hundreds of volunteers from our community. Through our in school education programs, students have the opportunity to work with college students, business leaders and retired community members who dedicate time weekly to come in and help students plant, taste and explore the world of natural science in their garden.
This fall, we would like to spotlight one of the many community members who dedicate their time to volunteer and help keep our programming possible for Lane County youth, Phil Robbins. Phil began working with School Garden Project in 2013. Since that time, Phil has spent over 70 hours volunteering with our programs at Thurston Elementary School. When asked about volunteering with our programs Phil shares, “Being a farmer, I work by myself all day, so it strengthens my community to come into Thurston and work with the kids…2nd grade is a wonderful age! They are so eager to learn and they love to get outside and enjoy the garden. They are smart and full of surprises…”
Phil, a retired stonemason turned farmer, has been a vital part of our programs at Thurston, spending the first two school years with us for 2 1/2 hours each Wednesday, a very demanding time commitment for most working individuals and college students alike. “I worked as a supervisor and counselor with youth for many years, but had to retire from it because of severe hearing loss and vision difficulties. While I have enjoyed doing construction and farming it is often lonely work and I began to seek opportunities to get involved with community and youth again during the week! I saw info on SGP and thought about how much I enjoyed teaching at Outdoor School back in the day. I decided to give it a try!.”
Phil’s superpower is “Knowing that Plants are Magic” “Knowing that the kids are getting outside and learning about gardening, and science, and healthy eating makes is a valuable program for me, (a favorite memory) is when students pulled up plants gone to flower and seed in a bed with lots of bees! The kids were pretty scared of those bees at first but learned that the bees are not that interested in stinging them!” When he’s not teaching students to plant, harvest and prepare soil, Phil can be found selling berries and vegetables as well as smoothies at the Dexter Lake Farmers Market.